For three months now, I’ve been ruminating about a single piece of paper that arrived in my letterbox.
Late last year, I received an invite to my friend Sarah’s* wedding (we went to school together, and have been relatively close ever since), and was excited to stick it on the fridge and look forward to a really special day.
But everything changed when I looked at the names at the top of the invite. Or, actually, the name.
I’ve been with my partner for 13 years. We live together, we don’t have any children, but I’ll just repeat: we’ve been together for 13 years. Sarah knows my partner. They probably wouldn’t go out for coffee just the two of them, but they’re at the same social events several times a year.
That’s why I was so shocked, after attending the engagement party together, to find that only I was invited to Sarah’s wedding.
At first, I thought it must have been a mistake. Surely my name implied my partner’s, and I just needed to clarify.
So I texted another friend who’s going to the wedding, and also has a partner she’s been with for about three years. She rang me immediately.
Apparently, while there are about 20 girls invited, none of our partners are welcome. Sarah and her soon-to-be-husband wanted to keep numbers down, invite more family, and just have close friends there.
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Fair enough, I thought.
Your wedding, your choice.
I was out at drinks for a friend’s birthday, and the subject of the wedding came up. A friend, let’s call her Eliza, who lives in another state and was visiting for the party, mentioned in passing that she and her husband would be travelling for Sarah’s wedding and she’s excited to be staying in a fancy hotel for a few nights.
It wasn’t until I got home that it hit me.
Wait. That means Eliza’s husband is invited.
After some digging, it was confirmed. Not only is Eliza’s husband invited, the partners of all the married people are invited.
Eliza and her partner have been together for seven years.
I know it’s not a competition, and I know there’s no rule book, but for some reason the completely arbitrary decision to only invite married couples, and not a couple who has been together for 13 years but isn’t married, has really annoyed me.
Weddings are expensive, and I completely understand not inviting your cousin's girlfriend of three months who you'll probably never see again. I also understand drawing a line in the sand when you have to.
But not inviting the person I've been with for 13 years? Who I plan to spend the rest of my life with? Just because we're not married?
It feels unfair.
I guess what's particularly upsetting isn't just that my partner won't be there at Sarah's wedding - it's that I'm worried this is how our relationship is perceived more generally.
Is our relationship not as serious? Do people think we're more likely to break up? Do people not see us as two people who are as committed to each other as a married couple?
Maybe I'm being overly emotional, and obviously I would never bring any of this up with Sarah because the last thing her wedding day is about is me.
But... am I justified in feeling hurt? Or is this a normal wedding rule?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
*Names have been changed.
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